VIDEO: Omaha's best gourmet burger
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For this month's Food Prowl, we sought Omaha's best gourmet burger.
Even with such high-end burgers, our main criteria remained pretty straightforward: The burger patties had to be cooked and seasoned right. And all the other stuff, even the most creative toppings and condiments, was just decoration. Albeit delicious decoration.
The Winner: The Grey Plume
220 S. 31st Ave.
The Plume burger was one of the most flavorful, and the seasoning of the patty was on-point. The Plume makes its burger using the beef cut called chuck roll, sort of the “pork butt” of beef. Plume makes its buns in-house, and the menu offers add-ons, two of which we tried: foie gras and pork belly.
The burger was an experience to eat. Alone, the mustard may have been a touch grainy and spicy, and the bun may have been a touch dry, the chunks of foie gras and pork belly too big. But when you took a bite of condiment, house-made pickle, crumbly buttermilk cheese, burger and bun, the whole thing became clear this burger is thoughtful. Not one flavor was lost or muddled.
We did have a few problems. It required a knife and fork, which guest taster Mindy Duff didn't like. Picking it up, she said, is “part of the joy of eating a burger.”
The experience of the Plume burger left me breathless. It elevated the lowly sandwich to something else: a real dish.
The other contenders:
5203 Leavenworth St.
The J. Coco burger is one of my favorites in town. The burger I ate was cooked perfectly, topped with a runny egg and resting on a bed of sweet caramelized onions. I opted for the buttered and toasted brioche bun.
The egg and onions exploded with flavor and brought just the right amount of moisture to the package. The slightly charred exterior of the patty tasted great paired with the pink center.
6207 Maple St.
Lot 2's burger has a lot going on, including a spread of homemade bacon-onion marmalade, a secret sauce and roasted tomato. We all got the restaurant's basic cheeseburger and ordered one naked patty, sans toppings or bun. The results created a team split.
Guest taster An Vu and I agreed that the first bite tasted more like a bacon sandwich. Mindy's burger, though, had just the right amount of bacon jam and wasn't overwhelmingly smoky or bacony. None of us could taste the roasted tomatoes, which was too bad because one was tasty when I tried it alone. The naked patty tasted fairly salty, and the inconsistency of the dressed burgers bothered me.
Guest taster Nick Strawhecker loved the Lot 2 burger, though, and said that it was one of the juiciest we'd tried.
Plank Seafood Provisions
1205 Howard St.
It at first struck me as a bit weird to try a burger at Plank, the city's newest seafood place. Nick got house-cured bacon and cheese on his burger, while An opted for the most adventurous topping, a fried oyster. Mindy and I shared a classic cheeseburger.
The oyster burger, which we all sampled, took the cake. Two fried pieces of oyster almost melted into it but didn't overtake its flavor. We liked the textural mix of the juicy beef and slightly tougher seafood, and the oyster brought unexpected crunch and chew to the sandwich.
Our main beef with Plank's burger: the nondescript buns.
4920 Underwood Ave.
We waited the better part of an hour for our three burgers, which came out way too rare, one basically inedible and way too salty. One was saltier even than the duck fat French fries.
Louie's Wine Dive
16920 Wright Plaza
The burger here was classic and basic but not very gourmet.
“It's not a bad burger,” Mindy said. “It just doesn't compare with the other ones we've had.”